Thursday, August 18, 2016

Putin, Trump, Fascism

The world was easier to understand a year and a half ago. In Ukraine, you had the pro-Russian forces versus the Azov neo-Nazis. It wasn't tough to figure out which side to cheer and which side to jeer: The bad guys wore swastikas (or swastika-like symbols). History was repeating itself; if you listened closely, you could hear the first movement of Shostakovich's seventh symphony.

But now...

But now it has become very clear that Putin is the power behind Trump, just it has become very clear that Trump represents a form of American fascism. Trump's hiring of Breitbart's Steve Bannon -- a man so far to the right that he appalls even some fans of the late Andrew Breitbart -- proves the point once again.

As much as I detested Breitbart, I have to give him credit for one thing: He kept the more monstrous expressions of old-school racism muted on his various sites. That all changed when Bannon took over the Breitbart empire: The place became a toxic dumping ground for white supremacist spew.  
White nationalists today invest a lot of energy worrying about growing Hispanic and Muslim populations in the U.S. Turns out, Breitbart News spends a lot of time worrying about those things, too. And in Bannon, they see a media-friendly, ethno-nationalist fellow traveler.

“Latterly, Breitbart emerged as a nationalist site and done great stuff on immigration in particular,” editor Peter Brimelow told The Daily Beast.

VDare is a white supremacist site. It’s named after Virginia Dare, the first white child born to British colonists in North America. Brimelow said he and Bannon met briefly last month and exchanged pleasantries about each other’s work.

“It’s irritating because is not used to competition,” Brimelow added. “I presume that is due to Bannon, so his appointment is great news.”

Brimelow isn’t the only prominent white nationalist to praise the Bannon hire. Richard Spencer, who heads the white supremacist think tank National Policy Institute, said he was also pleased. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart has given favorable coverage to the white supremacist Alt Right movement. And Spencer loves it.
“Breitbart has elective affinities with the Alt Right, and the Alt Right has clearly influenced Breitbart,” he said. “In this way, Breitbart has acted as a ‘gateway’ to Alt Right ideas and writers. I don’t think it has done this deliberately; again, it’s a matter of elective affinities.”
Yiannopoulos wrote a piece on March 29, 2016, about the Alt Right, praising its members as “dangerously bright,” and cheering the VDARE and American Renaissance sites as an “eclectic mix of renegades.” American Renaissance is helmed by Jared Taylor, who advocates for voluntary racial segregation and says African Americans are genetically predisposed to be criminals.
From Right-Wing Watch:
Breitbart’s role as a propaganda arm for Trump’s campaign goes beyond boosting the candidate. The outlet also fuels the racial panic that is the subtext of much of what Trump says. Breitbart’s editor-in-chief told Bloomberg last year that the outlet focused less on specific stories than on creating long-running narratives with heroes and villains—many of them painting immigrants and people of color as the latter...
The Southern Poverty Law Center documented earlier this year Breitbart is becoming the “media arm” of the alt-right, a young “white identity” movement that sees Trump as a hero:
Breitbart recently published a lengthy defense of the Alt-Right, claiming the white nationalists such asRichard Spencer and Jared Taylor who created the ideology “have been accused of racism,” choosing to ignore the well-documented openly-racist views.

But Breitbart’s open defense of the Alt-Right didn’t appear out of thin air.

Over the past year the media outlet has been openly promoting the core issues of the Alt-Right, introducing these racist ideas to its readership – much to the delight of many in the white nationalist world who could never dream of reaching such a vast number of people.

Breitbart has always given a platform to parts of the radical right, most notably elements of the organized anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant movements. Breitbart has also organized conferences featuring nativist speakers and published op-eds and interviews with movement leaders. But since 2015, Breitbart began publishing more overtly racist diatribes about Muslims and immigrants.
One of the co-authors of Breitbart’s defense of the alt-right was Milo Yiannopoulous, who was on hand at the Republican National Convention this summer to boost Trump.
Mother Jones reports that Breitbart is funded by billionaire Robert Mercer, who previously backed Ted Cruz. Kellyanne Conway -- who has Manafort's old position (I guess) -- worked for Mercer, back when Cruz was still viable. She is also active in the National Organization for Marriage, an anti-LGBTQ organization -- thereby giving the lie to Trump's professions of tolerance for gays.

Now let's turn to the "Merkel meme," as outlined by Josh Marshall:
A few days ago the Trump camp started pushing the idea that Hillary Clinton was "America's Merkel", a reference to longserving German Chancellor Angela Merkel, by many measures one of the more successful European politicians of the post-war era. Trump even personally started pushing the Twitter hashtag "#AmericasMerkel. When I started seeing this my first thought was, "How many Americans do they think have even heard of Angela Merkel, let alone see her as some awful figure in a way that tying her to Clinton would send chills down people's spines?" For better or worse, Putin is super high profile. Netanyahu is high profile. For your average American? Merkel is not high profile.

The answer's obvious. But it didn't occur to me until I read this very smart piece by ThinkProgress's Alice Ollstein. Merkel is now a big, big deal (in a bad way) on alt-right and white supremacist websites where she's become the poster-girl for feckless politician's who are betraying the white race. Merkel led the way on pushing an generous refugee policy vis a vis the refugee crisis emerging from Syria. It's certainly not that no one in the US knows about this. But presidential campaigns are mass audience affairs. And this is where it's big. This is where it's dynamite to make Hillary Clinton into "America's Merkel."

It's not surprising. We've seen numerous instances and evidence and examples of how the Trump campaign is awash in the world of alt-right and white nationalist Internet culture, memes and ideas.
Let's look at Ollstein's important article.
To white nationalist communities that fervently support Trump, Merkel has been a popular villain. Sites like the Daily Stormer, the White Genocide Project, American Renaissance, and The White Resister have posted constantly about her since the Syrian refugee crisis began escalating earlier this year. They have accused her of making a “deliberate attempt to turn Germany from a majority White country into a minority White country.” They have called her a “crazy childless bitch,” “Anti-White Traitor,” and “patron saint of terrorists.” They have asked in articles about her, “Why would you allow a woman to run a country, unless you were doing it as a joke?”
Heidi Beirich, who investigates and tracks white nationalist groups for Southern Poverty Law Center, told ThinkProgress that Trump “seems to be parroting the hate sites” and speaking to their concerns.

“There is no question that the people who call him their ‘glorious leader’ know exactly what he’s talking about,” she said. “That is the audience that is concerned about this issue. Merkel is hated by Trump’s white supremacist supporters, and she and Clinton are seen in the same light.”
Did Vladimir Putin know that Trump was like this? I suspect so. Remember, Putin backs Le Pen in France.

Two years ago, Putin was warning of a new fascist threat in Eastern Europe. At that time, who would have supposed that Putin would back a fascist threat here?

From this point on, there is no reason to take the Russian leader seriously when he speaks of the threat of neo-Nazism. He has no standing, no moral right to complain.
Russian intelligence probably owns a big share in the "alt-right". The term "white supremacist" doesn't get to grips with it.

Meanwhile, Taki Theodoracopulos has long-standing connections with the CIA. The alt-Right and Wikileaks look like two cheeks of the same arse.
Trump's latest tweet: "They will soon be calling me MR. BREXIT!"

What does he mean?
I think it was Maddow last night who did a timeline of Breitbart memes and Trump statements. It is clear, he's a fan.
I'm answering myself here, but when Trump tweeted that people would soon be calling him "Mr Brexit", I know what he meant now. He meant that he had hired Cambridge Analytica, who some call the masterminds of Brexit. Kos are right about this.
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